Top Ten Tarantino Characters

The original minds of the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino. Their love for violence, their fantastic and memorable writing and their ability to never let you down, just to name a few. But I think Quentin Tarantino tops the Coen Brothers in his creation of some of the most memorable characters in film. Tarantino puts such a graceful brush stroke on every single one of his characters, making each one (no matter how manner) just plain awesome.

As always it was a difficult list to make because I love practically every character Quentin creates. I unfortunately was not able to make room for many characters I would love to find on a top ten such as this. Mr. Pink and Mr. Blonde are my favorite criminals from Reservoir Dogs who weren’t able to make to list. I wish I had room for Shosanna Dreyfuss of Inglourious Basterds, but she just missed the cut. Anyways, here they are, my favorite Quentin Tarantino characters…

10. Calvin J. Candie (Django Unchained)

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If Candyland is the mountain surrounded by hellfire that Dr. King Schultz describes in his german legend, than Calvin J. Candie is the fire breathing dragon. Leonardo DiCaprio never fails to show off his chops as an actor and he really shines here as a sadistic, savage and charismatic plantation owner. He’s the kind of villain you just despise from the moment you meet him and DiCaprio sells out. It’s a brilliant character that deserved a brilliant performance.

9. The Bride (Kill Bill)

The Bride is my favorite female hero in all of film. Period. Her determination and bloodlust drive the epic force that is Kill Bill. I love every moment of the four hour movie and it tells the tale of her escapades. Of course I love her. She puches her way out of a coffin buried 6 feet under, kills “88” people (not really, but still a large number) with out breaking a sweat and gouges out a rivals eye with her bare hand. Black Mamba is a samurai and the deadliest woman in the world.

8. Lt. Archie Hicox (Inglourious Basterds)

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He only makes it in three scenes of Tarantino’s WWII masterpiece, but one of them just so happens to be almost a half hour long and quite possibly the best scene in the movie. Hicox is an english officer bent on helping the Allies in any way he can. What makes him a shoe-in for this list for me is a scene when he’s told of his imminent death. With pride he sucks down his cigarette, picks up his glass of scotch and says one of my favorite lines in film, “There’s a special rung in hell for people who waste a good scotch and since I may be wrapping on the door momentarily…(finishes the glass)… I must say, damn good stuff.”

7. Stuntman Mike (Death Proof)

I absolutely love Death Proof. Is it that good of a movie? Most would say no probably, but I have a blast with every single time I’ve watched it. I think for the most part I love the movie because its driven by a character I love. The psychopathic killer, Stuntman Mike. A sweet talkin’ charmer who happens to kill girls with his car. He has played many bad asses in his illustrious career, but I don’t enjoy watching Kurt Russell nearly as much as I enjoy him as this bad ass.

6. Bill (Kill Bill)

Bill is simply what he calls himself, “a murdering basterd”. Look deeper though and he’s still a murdering basterd, but also a wise samurai with a broken heart. Every single line Bill has is uttered with sauch subtle grace and beauty by David Carradine. Every single moment is made quite epic by his presence. We don’t even see his face for the first half of the movie. Instead, we get a few shots of his hands, his sword and his cowboy boats slowly walking over to the half dead corpse of the woman he loves and is about to shoot in the head. Bill has a way a about him that makes him hated and loved by all he’s touched by. I for one just love the guy.

5. Dr. King Schultz (Django Unchained)

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I like to imagine that Tarantino sees a bit of himself in Dr. King Schultz, a man who could never truly understand Django’s pain and struggle, but who would never the less help Django in any way he could. Dr. King Schultz walks into Django’s life very suddenly and they instantly hit it off. He says it himself, Schultz “despises” slavery and he sees to the freedom of a man he was meant to meet. Together they form a bond willing to stand up against the atrocious tyranny of slavery. He’s a charming man, a wise mentor and a friend.

4. Lt. Aldo Raine (Inglourious Basterds)

Known to his enemies as Aldo the Apache is a nazi-scalping aficionado and the leader of the band of renegade jews sent to do as much damage as they possibly can against the Third Reich. He bares a lynching scar across his neck and we don’t know why, but I love it. Aldo goes through no transition or arch as a character and that’s the reason I love him. We know what to expect out of him. We know what he loves and we know he’d like to be doing it till the day he dies and that is “killin’ nazis.”

3. Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction)

Jules Winnfield is by far one of the greatest movie characters of all time. A notorious hitman touched by the grace of god and changed spiritually forever. This is by far Samuel L. Jackson’s best and most iconic performance. “Hmm, that is a tasty burger.” I love every single violent and philosophical induced moment with this “Bad Motherfucker”. You can’t talk about Quentin Tarantino movies and not mention the awesomenous that is Jules Winnfield. From the bible verse he recites before killing somone to his rightfully stitched wallet, I can never get enough of him.

2. Django (Django Unchained)

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In Django Unchined, you’ll find the greatest hero Quentin Tarantino has ever created. I never want anything bad to happen to Django and his love, Broomhilda. From the moment he is released from his chains I am rooting for him. He’s the definition of a badass and he’s a righteous man, a hero looking for retribution. Django is reminiscent of a mighty knight riding in to save the woman he loves. You love him and his woman and his journey, you hate the villains that stand in his way and to watch his wrath unleash when it goes down is nothing short of breathtaking.

1. Col. Hans Landa (Inlgourious Basterds)

“The Jew Hunter” is one of the greatest characters in film and by far the greatest character Quentin Tarantino has ever created and probably ever will create. It took him 15 years to top the character Jules Winnfield. I seriously doubt he’ll ever be able to top Hans Landa. A nazi is probably the most hated figure in history, but finally someone had the guts to give one some depth, and Col. Hans Landa is the result (played to nothing short of perfection by Christoph Waltz).

Col. Landa is actually a man who doesn’t buy into the nazi propaganda and instead is just doing his duty and he’s damn good at it because the S.S. officer is also a detective. It really doesn’t get much more interesting than an intelligent nazi colonel who intertwines through the threads of the events and people around him, eventually betraying his country in order to secure his survival and happy future. Col. Hans Landa is a despicable mastermind with no cap on his malevolence.

Top Ten Westerns

This is a list I’ve truly been prepping for, for about a year now. About a year ago I had only seen a couple westerns that I had actually enjoyed (a few of those made this list), and I realized as a lover of movies I have not seen nearly enough westerns. So, I filled my netflix queue and got to watching and enjoying. I realized two things while watching the many westerns I did.

First of all, I’m quite sorry to say and I know many won’t agree with this statement and might even just X out of this page as soon as they read it, but an opinion’s an opinion and I’m not gonna lie to agree with society. I found John Wayne to be overrated. I’m just not a fan. I liked a few of his movies, such as The Searchers and The Shootist, and my favorite would probably have to be The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but that didn’t even make the list. It probably would be 11 or 12 though if I were to add on to this list.

Secondly, and much more importantly, I realized that the Western genre is one of my favorites and this list would be harder to make than I thought. I was very right. Through watching this dying genre I found not only fantastic westerns, but also some of the greatest movies I’ve seen of all time. Well, I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time now. Here are my top ten favorite westerns.

10. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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At the heart of this classic lies what may be the most iconic duo of all time. Paul Newman and Robert Redford play so impeccably well off each other that every scene is made real and memorable. The timing of every witty crack is absolutely perfect, the action sequences are highly entertaining, while sticking to realism and the finale is breathtaking.

9. Tombstone

Tombstone is a fantastic film that  was a shoe in for this list. Tombstone is the greatest telling of the now classic tale of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. There are many memorable parts, from the classic OK coral shoot-out, to Holiday’s tricks with a tea cup in a bar. There’s something for everyone in this flick because even if you don’t find solace in the fantastic scenes, you will certainly find enjoyment out of Val Kilmer’s masterful performance as Doc Holiday.

8. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

This is one of the newest westerns to be placed on this list and in my eyes this movie is a breath of fresh air because it showed that great westerns can still be made today. Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck are phenomenal. A brilliant cast and script was combined to tell the very true and quite epic tale of the assassination of one of the most famous western outlaws there ever was.

7. For A Few Dollars More

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For A Few Dollars More is a fascinating character study of bounty hunters in the old west. It’s the second film in Sergio Leone’s Man With No Name Trilogy, but as with every movie in the Dollars trilogy, it stands alone as its own fantastic story. Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef make for a very interesting and entertaining pair in the old west. Leone builds tension, keeps you guessing, and in the end he most certainly does not disappoint.

6. The Proposition

The Proposition is another western that is relatively new. It was made only a few years ago and I believe it is one of the greatest westerns of all time, only surpassed by some of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen. The plot of The Proposition is genuinely simple, yet superbly poetic. In the Australian Outback, a man is hired to kill his older brother in order to save his younger one from the noose. It’s the most brutal western I’ve seen and it never lets up till its pitch-perfect ending.

5. True Grit

The Coen Brother’s never cease to amaze and with their remake of the now classic John Wayne movie, they do more than that. True Grit is undoubtedly the most light-hearted of their films I’ve seen and the most light-hearted western. It’s also the one that feels the most real. Like almost all westerns, True Grit tells a simple tale, but because of the people who are telling the tale, what you get is something unbelievably moving.

4. Once Upon a Time in the West

Sergio Leone’s complex, gritty, western tale of revenge and mayhem is so amazing that it was hard to even put it at just number three. I’m going to say this right now, Sergio Leone builds tension better than Hitchcock does. Every single scene from the (waiting for the train) opening to the final showdown, your always on edge. I’d also like to say that Ennio Morricone is probably the greatest film composer in history. Westerns almost always have fantastic scores, but this is my favorite of any western score.

Last, but certainly not least I have to mention Henry Fonda’s flawless performance as the ruthless western gunslinger Frank, certainly out of character for him; his best work. This is some of Sergio Leone’s best work. A film that builds and builds with a well thought out, detailed and at times even complex plot that ends up being a very simple tale of good vs. evil. Sergio Leone’s masterpiece is the third greatest western I’ve seen.

3. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Most commonly called the classic western and for good reason. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is nothing and I repeat nothing short of a masterpiece. If I’m not mistaken I think the Man With No Name trilogy is the only trilogy that truly gets greater with each film. Leone’s skill for building tension, which has been attempted, but never matched, was never greater than in every single, intricately plotted, scene of this movie.

What Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood (Blondie-The Good) , Lee Van Cleef (Angel Eyes-The Bad) and Eli Wallach (Tuco- The Ugly) have given us is masterful look at the west, the adventures, and the subsequent stories that were inspired. A story full of depth and characters, whether that be the good guys, the bad guys, and the ones in between. A timeless epic that savors my hunger for excellence with each passing scene eventually leading to what is probably the most iconic and greatest western showdown/ending ever put on screen. And for this, from the bottom of my heart, I thank them.

2. Django Unchained

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Django Unchained is about a hero of mythical proportions on a quest for love. It’s a tale of friendship and taking a stand against the savagery of slavery. It’s a spaghetti western and an epic legend with all the blood and violence of the west and the heroes and villains you find in legends. It’s finds a balance between the intense drama that’s playing out and the rollicking good time that it is. It’s a magnificent story as only Quentin Tarantino could’ve told.

It’s hard not to root for Django in his vengeful and loving journey. It’s hard to to jump up and cheer when the whip or gun is turned back on the slaver. Dr. King Schultz can see slavery for what it is and he sees Django as a man and a friend in need. Only together can they attempt to conquer the Candyland and the ignorant villainy that lies within. Django Unchanged is ridiculously entertaining and unbelievably powerful.

1. Unforgiven

As I said in the past, this was a difficult list to make, but there is not a doubt in my mind when it comes to number one. Clint Eastwood starred in many classic westerns including Sergio Leone’s classic Man With No Name Trilogy. Then he directed some of his own great westerns. His knowledge on the genre grew over years of experience and he eventually gave us the greatest western of all time. Unforgiven is the western that was able to do what no other western was able to. It showed us what the west really was. Unforgiven showed us that a ruthless killer could fall off his horse or miss a shot.

Unforgiven shows the realistic West where no one could really be considered the good guy, not even the guy your rooting for (William Munny- Clint Eastood in an Oscar nominated performance) ,  and especially not the sheriff (Little Bill Dagget- Gene Hackman in an Oscar winning performance). Unforgiven was a masterful look into a world we’ve never seen. We thought we had, but we realize now that was all just fantasy. Unforgiven mixes dark realism with the  fantasy Western genre. Add brilliant acting and characters, fantastic writing and direction and the result is not only the greatest western of all time, but one of the greatest movies ever made. A true masterpiece of our time worthy of recognition and praise.